After the long-awaited reveal of Nintendo's Switch console and the confirmation of its launch price and the titles that will be available come March 3rd, people started dissecting information left and right. One of the pieces of information that really stuck out to many (and one that Nintendo didn't really advertise) was the high cost of the peripherals.
As a result, there's been a bit of upset at what people will have to do to expand their Switch's capabilities to more than just a single-player experience. But it's not all that bad if you take a closer look at things — so then why all the upset?
The Switch's Peripheral Costs Are A Little Better If You Break Them Down
Before getting into some of the reasons the Switch's price and peripherals have been a point of contention, it's worth actually stopping to look at what you're getting with each item. Above, we have everything that will come with your $300 Switch on launch day. Let's have some fun with numbers real quick, shall we?
- Left and Right Joy-Con Controllers with straps ($80 for both, $50 individually)
- Nintendo Switch Dock, HDMI Cable, and AC Adapter ($90)
- Joy-Con Grip ($30)
- Switch console itself ($300 - $80 - $90 - $30 = $100!)
So what does this say about the Switch itself? Is the console incredibly cheap? Or are the peripherals really heckin' overpriced? Well, probably a bit of both — though less of the latter than it might seem.
The Switch dock certainly seems expensive, but it's also something that mostly exists as a purchasing option so you can be lazy. Seriously, the official description spells out why you'd even buy one: "If you’d like to use your Nintendo Switch with multiple TVs in the house, this set provides everything you need to dock your system and play in TV mode."
Meanwhile, the Joy-Con Grip's primary appeal seems to be the ability to play while charging the Joy-Con controllers. Which, again, is a bit of a luxury — and on par with what you'd pay for a Wii U docking station and AC adapter for the gamepad.
Which, of course, leaves us with the price of the Joy-Con controllers. A lot of people saw this price and did a double-take. Frankly, $80 for a controller (without the $30 charging attachment) is ridiculous. But here's the caveat: It all depends entirely on how Switch games are played. If multiplayer games can all be played with a single Joy-Con controller, the price isn't all that bad.
If that's the case, you're essentially getting two controllers with the console, and another two for $40 each. Compared to the current rate of $35 for a Wii Remote Plus (and another $15 for the nunchuk attachment), the Joy-Con price more or less matches existing offerings. But again, this is assuming all multiplayer games can be played with a single Joy-Con controller.
Comparing The Switch To Current Offerings Doesn't Help The Price Look Any Better Either
The problem a lot of people are having with the Switch's $300 price tag — despite technically being one of the cheapest console launches ever — is that the most immediate comparisons we have are existing console bundles. It doesn't help that the recent #PS4Pro and #XboxOneS releases have helped push the prices of their original models down even more.
Right now, these are just a few of the options gamers have to compare the Switch's price to:
- A PS4 Slim with Uncharted 4 or two Call of Duty titles for $300 (and in some places, even less)
- An original #PS4 with the first three Uncharted titles and custom decals for $350.
- A 4K-and-HDR-capable PS4 Pro for $400.
- The original Xbox One with 14 days of Xbox Live Gold and a game of your choice for ~$260.
- A 4K-and-HDR-capable Xbox One S with 14 days of Xbox Live Gold, a month of EA Access, and a game for $300 (or less).
Looking at that, it's easy to see why some might be hesitant to actually purchase a Switch at launch. Although, for a release, the Switch's pricing is still rather generous.
But It's Easy To Forget These Consoles Had Much More Expensive Bundles For Their Launch
The problem with comparing the Switch to Sony and Microsoft consoles is that they're still technically a different generation of consoles. They will inherently be cheaper, even if they can boast 4K/HDR capabilities.
PlayStation 4 Launch Bundles
When the PlayStation 4 launched, it was at a base price of $400 and came with one controller, and HDMI cable, a power cable, a (kinda crummy) headset, and a cable to charge your controller. At launch, a PS4 controller cost $60 and the other in-box items, being extremely generous, would cost no more than $40. In other words, the price of the console alone would have still been $300.
In addition to the base model, it had four different bundle options, two with a PS Plus subscription and two without (although none included the $60 PS Camera):
- PS4 console, an extra controller, Battlefield 4, and a year of PlayStation Plus — $500
- PS4 console, an extra controller, Killzone: Shadow Fall, and a year of PlayStation Plus — $500
- PS4 console, an extra controller, Knack — $460
- PS4 console, an extra controller, Watch Dogs — $460
At the time of the PS4's launch, a year of PlayStation Plus cost $50 and the above games all cost $60. In other words, the top two bundles save you $70 and the bottom two saved you $60. But what about the Xbox One when it launched?
Xbox One Launch Details
When the Xbox One launched, it was at a base price of $500 and came with one controller, an HDMI cable, a power cable, a headset, a Kinect, and two weeks of Xbox Live Gold. At launch, an Xbox controller cost $60, a Kinect cost a full $150, and the other peripherals would have been ~$30. That puts the cost of the Xbox One alone somewhere in the neighborhood of $250.
However, when the Xbox One launched in November 2013, it did not have any official bundles and could not be purchased without the Kinect. It wasn't until June 2014 that a non-Kinect version was released for $400 — and if you did want a Kinect, you had to wait another few months until October to buy one for $150. All in all, this
Can I Get A TL;DR On All That, Please?
Okay, so all of that is a lot to take in. It's impossible to quantify everything, and a lot will still come down to personal opinion, but let's take stock:
- In terms of current-gen consoles, the Switch offers its unique brand of gaming for the same price as a 4K, HDR Xbox One S with a game or a PS4 Slim with a game, and for $100 less than a PS4 Pro.
- If each Joy-Con can function as a full controller — which appears to be the case — the Joy-Con price is actually slightly cheaper than PS4 or Xbox One controllers were at launch.
- If an entire Joy-Con set (left and right plus grip) is needed to function as a single unit, the price becomes almost double the cost of PS4 or Xbox One controllers at launch.
- As of right now, the Switch has no bundles and fewer launch titles than both the PS4 and Xbox one had.
In other words, the Switch's pricing is fine.
Unless Nintendo's previews are misleading, you get two controllers in the box and won't need anything except maybe one more set if you want to play games with friends. But it's pretty easy to look at factors like the overall peripheral pricing or other console options and feel like it should be a little cheaper. And maybe it should be!
The Switch clearly doesn't boast the latest technology, but it also offers a hybrid home/handheld console experience that also isn't available from any other console. If it didn't offer the latter, then the former would be hard to justify. But it does, and that means given the unrivaled hybridity, it's difficult to assign a price that's "right."
If you're a Nintendo fan, chances are you have it pre-ordered (or are trying desperately to do so). If you're not, then it all comes down to the sort of gaming experience you want. Casual gamers will likely have a blast with the Switch. More hardcore gamers who like the best graphics and smoothest framerate... well, there's no harm in waiting. Nintendo isn't one to shy away from price drops and new models.
With the above in mind, how do you feel about the prices of the Switch and its accessories?